Presenting Percy killer in public a harebrained idea

The murder of radio commentator Percival Mabasa, more known by his monicker Percy Lapid has trended in the news and even caught the attention of foreign governments that issued statements of grave concern.

The confessed gunman was presented to the public in a press briefing by the authorities. Under questioning by a high government official, he confessed to the killing of the media man who is said to have been dishing out critical and biting commentaries against the Duterte and Marcos administrations in his radio program.

The confessed killer gave a mouthful. Not only did he admit to the slaying, but he identified three of his henchmen. He also volunteered the information that the contract to kill purportedly came from inside the National Bilibid Prison. The consideration for the job, he said, was P550,000, receiving P140,000 as his share. He said he surrendered himself to the police fearing for his life as a screenshot of himself taken from the CCTV cameras installed within the area of the murder was found printed in the newspapers and flashed on TV screens nationwide. He expressed remorse and regret for killing the radioman as he asked forgiveness from the family of the victim with droplets of tears flowing from his eyes.

I was hosting my daily morning SMNI show titled “Problema n’yo, ITAWAG KAY PANELO” with co-anchor Hannah Jane Sancho, when we gave way to the breaking news on the latest development on the said killing and monitored in disbelief the ongoing presscon on 19 October.

My first thought that came up as I incredulously watched the drama was: “Who the hell thought of that harebrained idea of presenting the trigger man to the public and making him sing like a canary???!!!

Something is vexingly wrong with that public presentation. It endangers the successful solution to the crime. By disclosing the names of the accomplices to the crime, those partners in crimes will necessarily make themselves scared and the police will have difficulty in locating them or worse, lose altogether the opportunity of arresting them.

By allowing the suspect to reveal that he has also an accomplice in the national penitentiary, that person he referred to as well as the mastermind will cover their tracks to mislead the probers and escape from their pursuers, or any of the accomplices could end up on a permanent leave of absence from the physical plane.

What the police investigators should have done was to keep under wraps the surrender of the gunman and made follow-up investigations and undertook operations leading to the arrest of the other accomplices.

By being so eager beaver in presenting him to the public and allowing the accused to blurt out vital information as to the identities and the whereabouts of the other suspects, the police investigators derailed the success of collaring them, charging them in court, and eventually clamping them to jail.

The PNP police operatives assigned to solve the murder case should immediately desist from entertaining interviews from TV networks and radio anchors. They must focus on their fieldwork instead. They are jeopardizing their investigative work by subjecting themselves to useless and destructive media interviews.

Government officials should also lay off the case and let the police do their work. They should resist the temptation of the tantalizing lure of publicity, seeing themselves on TV screens and being the subject of news articles relative to the case.

News outfits should put on hold interviews of police investigators until all facts are in with all the accused formally charged in court. To continue dishing out information that could compromise the case, they only effectively help the suspected criminals in escaping from the clutches of the law and become an added burden on the government’s task to ferret out the culprits of the heinous crime and put them behind bars.

There ought to be a law banning criminal suspects from being subjected to media scrutiny before they are formally charged.

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